Race Schedule

2014 Races…Still TBDStill :)
Bike MS 100M ride (UT - June) 8:h:40m
Speedgoat 50k (UT - July 19) 9h:34m:26s


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Greenification

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ” Margaret Mead

Team Atayne - Frank Lloyd Wright Races Trash Runners '08
Claire, Adrian, Mike H., Jason, Katherine, Mike M., Me, Christina

It's not like we're reinventing the wheel here folks. But, it is nearly as exciting :)

Team Atayne took on another trash running adventure and headed to the little suburb of Oak Park, which shares the western border of Chicago. The draw? The 32nd Annual Frank Lloyd Wright Races, of course! I've been an FLW participant since I was about yay high, and I have never forgotten how I whined and complained when my mom came home and announced she had signed me and the rest of my siblings up for the 1-mile fun run (I was about 8 years old). Fun run? Sick joke. Of course that was back in the day when we ran the mile run in gym class once per year, and I usually showed up to gym class in Keds and dress (I had a phase...I would only where dresses throughout most of elementary school). So, running wasn't quite my forte.

Anyhow, ever since, I've always participated in the FLW Races (1 mile, 5k, 10k), last year's Races being my first go at the 10k distance...my how far I've come in one year! So, when I saw the Races posted I talked to Jeremy and Mike at Atayne to see what they thought about making it a Team Atayne event.

After lots of phone calls and e-mails, and a little bit of paperwork, Atayne was officially a sponsor of the FLW Races, woohoo!

The Races have never been a 'green' race before, so this required a good bit of "consulting" on our part to help them move towards that this year. However, some things we couldn't change (i.e. getting recyclable paper cups for the aid stations, as opposed to the wax lined, non-recyclable cups they had already ordered), so it wasn't going to be 100% green, but it was a start.

I worked with the Races' awesome sponsorship coordinator, Joanna, to make sure we would have everything set for race day: recycling containers along the course and the start/finish area, making sure aid station crews kept trash and recycling separated throughout the day, having follower trucks at the back of the race to take on full bags of trash and recycling as needed, getting a tent/table for Atayne setup, coordinating garbage pick-up post race and making sure we had somewhere to put all the recycling when we were done...oh, and rallying enough volunteers to make sure everything went smoothly! Getting the volunteers was the hardest part, and the most stressful. In the end though, some really great members of Chicago Beer Runners stepped up and did a killer job. I am so grateful for their help, we couldn't have done it without them.

Trash Runners preparing to head out...

And they're off!

Mike flew in for the weekend (thank goodness!) and the original plan was to have him stay at the Atayne tent and sell shirts, but since my hamstring was still acting up we decided to have me stay at the tent and Mike would lead Team Atayne along the route. Then I found out I was also going to be presenting the overall winners (M & F) for the 5k and 10k, fun! So, once the runners headed out, Katherine and I hung back and sold some shirts, talked Atayne, and jumped around while holding hot cups of coffee in an effort to keep from freezing our rears off. It was a little chilly that morning :) We sold a handful of shirts, but the best part was the exposure Atayne got. The response we got from runners was incredible. While we didn't sell as much as we were hoping to, I think that the incredibly positive reactions and sincere interest, shown by everyone who stopped by the table, in who and what Atayne is was invaluable. Definitely made the day worthwhile. Oak Park is a very green community so I was certainly expecting the reaction we got.

A couple of the runners made it back fairly quickly, and were sitting at the tent when I returned from the 5k awards ceremony. They had gotten separated from the others somehow, so they ended sticking to the 5k route (rather than the planned 10k route). This turned out well because now the entire course was going to be cleaned!! We waited for awhile for the rest of the crew to show up...apparently they left so long after the 10k began that even the follower trucks were out of sight for them, and this meant two things: no clear idea of where the route was, and nowhere to put their full garbage and recycling bags! Thankfully, there were arrows on the ground indicating the route, and they made it just fine.

They're alive!! The rest of the Trash Runners finally show up...

In all, I think we ended up with 9 bags of recycling (cans, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes) and a ton of trash! I'm not sure how many bags of trash there were, but I saw the two garbage trucks pass by during breakdown and they were bursting at the seams with trash.

My rockstar volunteers with some of the recycling. What a handsome bunch :)

I wish I could have run with them, but it's better that I didn't push it. Trash running is so much fun! They all agreed that six miles is a long way when you're trash running. Mike said he couldn't believe we did it for 14.5 in Maine!

Afterwards, we all split up to go home, and Mike, Mike M., Christina and I got in my car to grab some breakfast before heading back into the city. On the way in, I decided to drive the 'scenic' route, as Mike had never seen the westside of Chicago...

The event went very well (better than I was expecting). There are a few things that could be tweaked and worked on for next year to make it even better, and a little smoother. But in all, it was a success, and the Race organizers were thrilled to have us there. We were the talk of the town!

Many many thanks to all the volunteers for giving up their Sunday morning for us, and for doing such a great job.

Paige, out.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Maximum Expo-sure


Ugggggghhhhh. Oh the boredom. Now I know what it feels like to be a non-runner...like there's a big black void in life. I can't imagine having that all the time.

Of course, I only kid, a little. But seriously, not running just sucks. I've got my foam roller on its side and I'm sitting on it as I type this. I have to feel connected somehow. My trusty foam roller does the trick. There is nothing I'd rather be doing right now than a nice little 10-miler. The weather is perfect for it: mid 40's, overcast, slight breeze. But I'm stuck inside because I'm still in "recovery" mode from last weekend's 50k whim in the woods.

Randy of Running Fit in Ann Arbor, MI put it best when he wrote that he doesn't like racing so much anymore because of the recovery time it requires in the aftermath. He loses out on good running because he's recovering from a race. Too bad I love racing so much.

I have an achy-in-a-way-that-makes-me-nervous left hamstring (behind and slightly above my knee), and a weird ache/pain on or around my right achilles. Not sure what it is, but I'm thinking I probably twisted or sprained my ankle a little during the 50k last weekend. Wouldn't shock me as I rolled both ankles a couple times, and the trail was banked to the right most of the time, hence the pain in my right ankle. I've never sprained or twisted anything that I'm aware of, so I'm not actually sure. I guess I'll find out at PT on Tuesday. Until then, I sit and twiddle my thumbs.

Of course I could write about Columbus. That was a fun trip :)

The Columbus Marathon was last weekend, and Mike and I roadtripped there to meet Jeremy at the expo and sell some Atayne shirts. My first experience on the other side of the vendor table at a race expo. Pretty cool.

Now, I consider myself pretty directionally abled, but for some reason this ability was turned off on our drive to Columbus. Mike and I decided to go for a quick 10-miler when I got home and wait out the weekend traffic. Great run, new route, loved it! So by the time we got on the road, it was after 9:00 already. Oy. We didn't take seriously signs along 90 saying that the exit towards 65 South was closed and to take a detour, and when we got into the friendly confines of Gary, Indiana, we were faced with the consequences of our actions.

Scariest/strangest gas station ever. The dude behind the counter was wearing cartoon flannel pj's and leopard print fuzzy slippers...the sugar at the coffee counter was clumpy, everything on the shelves were covered in a layer of dust, I spilled burning hot coffee on my hands, and then I immediately started deciding my plan of action once my wallet was stolen from me at gun point. Internally I was freaking out a little, but hopefully it didn't look that way. Mike got directions from the leopard fuzzy slippers guy (who was really quite nice), and I stood behind him as 3 large men entered the store and greeted the attendant.

Thankfully, the directions leopard fuzzy slippers gave us were spot on and we were on the highway in no time. Not before getting a scenic tour of Gary, Indiana first. Yikes. Nice little roadtrip, and we switched drivers around West Lafayette, and then our lives (and sense of direction) were in my hands. Mike was in and out of sleep the rest of the 6 or 7 hour drive, so it was easy for me to want to follow suit. I was almost to the point of holding my eyes open with my hands. I was tired, but thankfully my bladder is about the size of a dime, so we had to stop a lot and that allowed me to wake up a little each time. Around 5 a.m. we finally arrived in Grove City, Ohio and pulled into the motel Jeremy was already fast asleep in. I slept like a baby.

The guys got up early, while I slept in, and went to the expo to set up. I met them there around noon, and then Mike went back to the hotel to do some work and take a nap.

It was actually a lot of fun, considering it was almost 9 hours on our feet. I had a really good time talking to and meeting new people. We met an great guy, Darris, from the Clif Bar Pacer Team. He was awesome! Jeremy and Mike had a really good talk with him on a couple occasions, and while he didn't buy a shirt the first time, he came back later and bought two. Then one of his fellow pacers, Kathleen, who kept walking by our table throughout the day, eyeing it like candy, finally brokedown and bought a shirt. She put it on over her Clif Bar shirt and walked around in it the rest of the day, awesome! Clif Bar hearts Atayne.

People were honestly interested in the product and loved hearing all about it. It started out slow, but eventually picked up as people were rushing in to get their packets before close. Tons of vendors had "expo deals" and we were directly across the aisle from a running store advertising "50% off everything". But somehow we managed to sell a good deal of shirts, at full price. It was great. Shows you that people believe in Atayne and will pay the premium for a high quality product. The guys would have liked to sell more than we did, but we didn't do so bad especially when you consider the competition we had in the same room, and the pathetic state of the U.S. economy. I was really happy to be a part of it. We inspected every shirt before we handed it over to its new owner, and made sure they knew that if anyone had a problem with the size or color that we would exchange it, no problem.

It's inspiring to see a company like this in action, and to know that they really are looking out for the interests of its customers. It's not just about money, it's more about delivering a phenomenal product, and making sure the customer is 100% satisfied with it. Jeremy refused to push anything on anyone because why should someone buy something they don't need? It would go completely against the whole idea of reduce reuse recycle. Talk about staying true to yourself! So, we just talked about the product and answered questions as they came up. From there, the shirts pretty much sold themselves.

And so the day went. It was great. I even bought some Gu for our race the next day, and some fun bumper stickers before the expo closed down. Mike hopped across the aisle and picked up a pair of gloves for the race. Then it was time to close up shop. That's the least fun part about these things, but it actually went really smoothly and we were out of there in no time.
Who says event breakdown can't be fun?

Mike coasting his way out of the exhibit hall on the Atayne dolly...
Afterwards, the guys played with Jack...Camp Atayne on the road is just as entertaining as Camp Atayne at home...

Then we decided we were hungry, and chose the hottest spot in town for dinner...Waffle House!!!! As Mike said, "Only the best for my girlfriend and Atayne!"
To top off the weekend, we decided we should celebrate with a few cold ones. On the way back to the motel after dinner, Mike and I ran into a gas station to grab a trio of beer best left for the college students, but how could we resist?

Mmmmm, Busch Light, Natural Light and PBR. And don't forget, Mike and I had a 50k to run the next morning, now that's hardcore!

So much fun, you gotta love Camp Atayne!

Read on for all about the Stone Steps 50k...my first go at an ultramarathon!

Paige, out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Where There's a Whim There's a Way

"Too much knowledge can hold you back. Ignorance on the other hand, now that was something that could get you to the finish line." ~ Mark Will-Weber

I used to be one of those runners that planned out every training run, to a T. I followed my plan exactly, and if I had an off day and couldn't crank out the miles I had planned I'd get really down on myself about it. It could get to the point that I'd lose sleep over missing a run one day, or not being able to finish an easier 5-miler. How frustrating, and completely ridiculous! A strict plan works for some (well, many) runners, but not for me. It drove me nuts and I'd actually had to take time off from running because I'd burn myself out so much.

My how time, maturity (just a little bit), a few good learning experiences, and a couple good people can change a person! I've thrown out the book and taken a more pragmatic approach to my "training". I know what works for me, I know what doesn't work, and what I should do (which tends to straddle what works and that which doesn't work for me, go figure). I know I need to get a long run in on the weekend, and I need at least a couple other somewhat substantial runs during the week. I also know that my body likes to shut down or injure if I push more than 4 days of running per week. So, that means getting a couple 5-10 milers in during the week, and then a really awesomely long run on Saturday or Sunday. (Oh, this is what my "plan" involves for 50k training.)

All was going according to the "plan" for the last few weeks, when I started feeling like there was a deep void. I started hating my plan! I wanted to just do something and stop planning for it. Yes, I know, this is probably a really not-smart way to approach ultra running, but we all work in different ways.

So, when I got home on Wednesday evening last week, and Mike, in town for the week, pipes in "Hey, there's a 50k in Cincinnati on Sunday and it's on the way back from Columbus, wanna run it?" I think I almost immediately said yes. I don't really recall thinking about it much at first. Then on Thursday at work I scanned the website for the Stone Steps 50k, kept it minimized in the toolbar for the vast majority of the day, and then returned to it again at the end of the day. I couldn't stop thinking about it! I wanted in. I e-mailed the RD to make sure we could register on race day, and from there it was a done deal in my mind.

Considering my longest run to date was the 14.5 miles we did in Maine cleaning up the course after the marathoners a couple weeks ago, and the only trails I've run were at Waterfall Glen and in Palatine, IL three months ago, I knew I wasn't technically prepared for it. But, keeping true to my ways, I didn't care and I just wanted to go for it. I wasn't prepared for my first half marathon, but I still ran it and did awesome. I wasn't prepared for my first 10k a year ago (almost to the day), but I did it anyway. I certainly wasn't all that prepared for the 14.5 in Maine, but I still did it. So, my thinking was, I can do it! Even if I couldn't run the entire 31 miles, I could still walk it and finish under the cutoff. Done!

So, rising at 4:30a.m. Sunday, Mike and I hoped into the car and, on our way back from working with Atayne at the Columbus Marathon Expo (more to come on this), we made a little detour and stopped off in Cincinnati's Mt. Airy Forest for a little Sunday morning jog through the forest on an 8++ mile figure eight loop course. And here's how it all panned out...


Mike and I at 8:00a.m., at the start/finish line (which also doubled as the single aid station)

It was COLD! I'm glad I managed to be so prepared and packed the running tights, gloves and hat! I think it was about 41 degrees, but felt more like 10. However, it turned out to be perfect running weather. We ran up to the gazebo, registered on the spot, got our race bags, and then headed back to the car to apply the Body Glide, prepare our "drop bag" and warm our limbs before the madness began.

And we're off! That's the field of runners...67 runners, turned into only 57 finishers...10 DNF's


The course had a 5++ mile loop that ran through the aid station, followed by a 3++ mile loop that returned to the same aid station. Rinse and repeat. The first 5 or so miles were great, I felt great, and I felt really optimistic. It was a little weird passing runners in the beginning because a) it was a single track trail with little room to pass without forcing the other runner into the brush; and, b) I felt like a 'typical' ultrarunning newbie, passing early, only to get passed up by those same folks who were more conservative in the beginning. Oh well, you run, you learn. We soon make it to the Stone Steps around 2.5 miles and I began to run up them, quickly realizing that I wasn't going to be maintaining my pace for long. So, I took to walking fast up the steps with Mike. Here are the Stone Steps...I'm only about 1/4 of the way up...

It was so hard to catch my breath after that first ascent of the steps. Lesson learned. We were going to be running those 200+ stairs three more times, so we had time to come up with a strategy before we came around to them again. Around mile 4 on this loop we came to a tupperware bin filled with gummy bears (the hill we had just climbed is called Gummy Bear Hill). I had never been so happy to see processed gummy sugar! That's all I needed to motivate me through the next 8 or so miles :)

The next loop sucked. I quickly decided that I hated the 3++ mile loop way more than the longer one. It had us running across and down a road, through some fields (one of which felt longer and crappier each time we crossed it), and the trail was much more technical (rooty and rocky), but still very runable. If I'm recalling correctly, it was mostly downhill on this portion and that's what really got to me. I'm a terrible downhill runner. I couldn't get my footing most of the time, so much of this portion was more speedwalking for me. Mike flew down the downhill sections like a pro. He glided over the techinical stuff like it was nothing, and I was so hesitant with every step. I was so worried I was going to just bite it. I lacked any confidence on these parts and couldn't just let go and let my legs do the running. So, I gingerly descended the hills, while Mike waited at the bottom for me each time. Best running partner ever.

I began to look forward to the uphills and the stairs, imagine that!


Water break!

The course was gorgeous, but it was hard to really take it all in because, even with my limited trail experience, I know that the moment your eyes leave the ground in front of you it could easily spell the end of your race. During our planned one minute walk breaks after each mile I made sure to look around a bit. The place is gorgeous! Deafeningly quiet, serene, a canopy of green overhead with rays of sunshine breaking through here and there providing some much appreciated warmth throughout the day. It was cold enough that we both ran with our gloves on the entire time and I kept the Buff around my neck all day. I probably would have been uncomfortably cold had it not been for my tights. They really held up well. I was comfortable the whole run.

At mile 12 we passed one of the stranger sights littering the trail here and there throughout the day. Just random hikers. It was a couple with three dogs of varying sizes, all were barking, and on the arm of the woman was a ginormous white bird, squawking! What the hell is going on?! It was hilarious! The dogs were going nuts because we probably appeared to come from out of thin air, and then the bird started squawking out of control because the dogs were so loud. It was all the poor couple could do to keep the dogs off of us, and keep the bird on the woman's arm! Oh the woods, what a magical place.

I was feeling great, all things considered. Then around mile 15 I felt hot spots on the balls of both my feet. I was planning on ignoring them until mile 17 when I stepped on a sharp rock that rocked my right foot to the side and burst the blister that had formed on that side! It sent a shooting pain up my leg to my knee and I sucked in air so hard I coughed. Ok, no worries, at least now that it's popped it'll go numb! However, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Mike was doing a really awesome job of distracting me with great conversation and positive reinforcement, and at mile 18 I needed it. For a brief moment, my legs just stopped working and my left foot caught on a root that it didn't clear and down I went! I landed flat on my frontside, somehow missing smacking my face on the trail. I was up just as quickly as I went down, but not before dropping the F-bomb very loudly and repeatedly. Mike had sprinted ahead (it was a downhill section) and immediately knew I had bit it. "Did you fall, Troelstrup?!" I started laughing so hard I could barely move, knowing that it must have looked hilarious, and wishing that Mike had gotten it on video. "I'm so jealous, you've had your first ultra trail fall. I want one!" Not a bruise, not a scrap, nada. I was lucky, it could have been ugly!

At mile 20 my body began to protest. At the aid station, nothing looked appetizing, so I stuck to Mountain Dew, grapes, and a bite or two of a granola bar each time. It was strange feeling like that, borderline nauseous. After the 2nd full loop I began to even feel nauseous while running. I've never had that before and it was a little scary, but I did my best to just push it to the side. Taking walk breaks became so necessary, but getting back into a full on run became harder every time I took a walk break. I was literally reduced to bargaining with my body. I've read a lot about how an ultra is more of a mental/emotional feat than it is a physical one. I was finally experiencing this for myself. My legs felt heavy and everything was sufficiently achy, but never so bad that I felt that I couldn't go on.

There was only one other woman in my division and she was gaining on us at the end of the 3rd loop, and when Mike said as much, I said "I don't give a shit if she passes me." He laughed at me, but we were on the field-crossing section of my least favorite loop, the part that seems to go on forever, and stopping to rest was the only thing on my mind. Mike didn't want me to rest, he wanted me to push on. So we pushed on.

I'll say this, the volunteers at the aid station were awesome. They were so nice and so enthusiastic. The race director, David, was there the entire time cheering each runner on as they came through the station. At the first stop, I had my mouth full of water, granola and grapes and I was trying to tell Mike that they had PB&J. I made no sense to anyone but Mike who knew exactly what I said. David found that pretty amusing and proceeded to jive me about it each time I came through the station :)

Each stop became harder to get out of. It gives too much time for the muscles to stiffen and makes it difficult to get them rolling again. On our way out of the final loop, Mike grabbed his camera to get some shots of the scenery. We were having a lot of fun, and I needed it to distract me from the pain on my feet from the blisters and the fact that my quads were totally trashed from the downhills. Just before we reached our last set of the Stone Steps, Mike found the perfect tree limb and started rolling his legs, getting them prepped for the hard effort ahead of us...

A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do! A mini massage in the middle of the forest, who'd have thought!

I was so tired and felt like one giant cramp waiting to happen, and every muscle in my body ached. I never realized how much my lower back and abs come into play during a run. They were both on fire. I could feel every single muscle contraction during every single step. It was weird, but really cool at the same time. You learn a lot about your body during long runs, and this day was a crash course for me! During that last loop Mike and I were pretty quiet, concentrating on the ground under our feet. The more exhausted you are, the more you have to pay attention to avoid a spill.

I thought a lot about how I got to this point, why I was there, and how I felt about it. I knew I was technically undertrained for this sort of distance, I knew that I could finish it because I wanted to finish it. It's amazing what you can do when you actually want to do it. I felt like crap and my body ached in a way it never had before, but I loved every second of it. When I would pick up my stride after a walk break I was amazed that I was doing it. I thought to myself multiple time throughout the day, "I feel like total crap and my legs feel like cinder blocks, but I'm still running!" It was so cool! I knew I was going to hurt in the aftermath, but I also knew it was totally going to be worth it.

We were a football fields distance from the finish line (which I didn't realize) and Mike was pushing me to pick it up a little more so that I could finish under 7 hours. I didn't care at this point what my time was, I just wanted to finish. I looked at my GPS and thought to myself "no way that's happening", but he sprinted ahead to give his camera to a volunteer at the finish line (which I couldn't see as it was around a bend, hence the reason I thought we were farther off than we actually were) and when he returned we crossed the finish line together. It was perfect. I saw the clock at the finish and it read 6:57:09...we finished under 7 hours!!

Holy crap! I thought my legs were going to give out. I was running for nearly 7 hours! I've never done more than 3 1/2 hours, and only half the distance before. My legs almost immediately stiffened, then my back and shoulders followed suit. The RD high-fived us and everyone congratulated us as Mike announced that I had just finished my very first 50k. I stood over the aid station table staring at the goods, knowing I needed to eat (I had just burned off two days' worth of calories, I should be starving!) but the sight of food made my stomach turn, so I just downed water and gatorade. A volunteer handed us our split cards, and we got our picture taken, then we walked around for a few minutes and stretched out our legs. It felt like I couldn't control my legs, it felt very weird. I was scared to take my shoes and socks off and look at my feet, it felt like they were both giant blisters.

Now it was time to go home! We had a 5 hour drive ahead of us into Chicago. Mike was able to switch his flight back to D.C. to Monday morning, so we didn't have to worry about rushing back to the city to make his flight. After a stop at a convenience store to get 4 bags of ice, a slushy for me, coffee and bananas, and then tacos at Taco Bell, I sat in the passenger seat and iced my ankles and shins. Mike used his Ace Bandages to attach ice packs to his knees while he drove the first half of the ride...

Ooo la la! The lady at the counter came on the loud speaker when she saw this and exclaimed that he looked great :)

Wow, what a day! I finished my first ultra marathon, and now all I could think about (besides the pain I was in) was when I do my next one! It was an amazing experience, and I'm so glad Mike was there with me. Honestly, I wouldn't have gotten into it if it weren't for him, and I don't know that I'd have finished if it weren't for him. I'd have probably cried more than a few times, but his positivity and humor kept me laughing and in good spirits, even on the downhills. Lucky me :) It really is a mental and emotional challenge. It was really cool to experience something like that and I looked forward to my next ultra. I'm looking forward to an '09 50-miler...which to choose!

I've been hobbling around since Sunday, and each time I come to a flight of stairs, I stand at the base and just stare at them knowing it's going to hurt to climb them, but damn it's good to know why it's going to hurt!

At work, no one understands what it is I did and it absolutely fascinates them. The general response is, "31 miles? You what?! Who does that, on a whim!" And I just smile.

Paige, out.

"If you start to feel good during an Ultra, don't worry - you'll get over it."- Gene Thibeault

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Maine Squeeze


Ah, Maine, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...okay, well it's a lot. First trip to Maine, and the northeast, and now I'm hooked. Can we say freaking gorgeous?! One of my younger sisters, Holms, and I ventured into the unknown for a week of unknown...ness. We found a condo on Craigslist, crossed our fingers and hoped it really existed, bought some plane tickets, I registered for a half marathon, and off we went.

Saturday was the big expo day (and we all know how much I love expo's...I even blog about them) and I volunteered to help Atayne out at their table. Mike, Jeremy, and Rebecca were there as well. I got there midway through the day, after some breakfast with the other members of the fab 5 (Becca, Chrissy and Brad) and after we all picked up our packets for the race.

I've done a gazillion expo-type events in my previous life as a radio DJ, but for some reason this was different (maybe because I actually like doing it, and it's for something I believe in), and I felt pretty bashful about talking to people about the product while everyone was there listening to me. Kind of like performance anxiety. It was my expo warm-up : )

I met lots of cool peeps, and a couple who approached us wearing Leadville 100 sweatshirts...I almost felt star-struck for some reason. Those people ran Leadville!! Anywho, Stephen Wells came up to talk to the guys, and Kelly (Stephen's wife) walked around with their son. We took the opportunity to trash his son...seriously, how cute is that?!

Fast forward to Sunday, Mike and I launch ourselves out into the frigid temps at 5:15a.m. to meet Rebecca and Jill (Jeremy's awesome aunt who is totally hilarious and a real trooper) at the start/finish area to set up the Atayne tent and get things rolling. It was SO COLD! Walking around in wet grass didn't help the cause either. Our feet were soaked before the sun came up.



The morning flew by, and before we knew it, everyone was lining up at the start line to run. I was signed up, but was going to be doing course clean-up with Mike, Jeff and Ian. This meant we'd be shuffling off to the 12-mile mark and running the remainder of the 26.2 mile course. I had no idea what I was in for. Just as the gun was about to go off, the rest of the fab 5'ers finally showed up and were rushing to get to the line...


First, we need a fab 5 group shot, it's the first time we've all been together since August!! Brad, me, Mike, Becca, Chrissy...


Mike and I hopped into his car, picked up some more coffee, and then headed for the 12-mile aid station. Directly across from us, and a good 50ft. down, is the 15-mile aid station, so we set to organizing the two stations simultaneously. Ian and Jeff join us here. Basically, we just talked to all the aid station volunteers and made sure that they knew to separate the paper cups and plastic water jugs, broke down the cardboard boxes, and separated garbage from recycling. The volunteers were incredibly responsive and unbelievably helpful. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I sure didn't expect such great help for some reason! We hung out at these two stations until all the marathoners ran through the 15-mile station, made sure everything was appropriately sorted before we left, and then off we went!

I'm sorry now that I didn't get any pictures of this stuff, but it was so busy, and my cold was really beating me up by now.

We set off, Mike, Jeff and I, garbage bags in hand, latex gloves on, heading for the tip of the turn around where we would meet Jan, Jeremy's dad, and pick up the retro-fitted twin baby jogging stroller. Imagine a double jogger, but with the seats taken out and replaced with two large garbage bins. One bin was for garbage, and the other for recycling. We circled back, and picked up our packs and Ian at the 15-mile station. Now, the show was really on!

Jeff, Ian, Mike, Me, garbage stroller

We ended up doing a lot more running than I anticipated, and we got really good at picking up garbage without breaking stride...it's an art form! Gu packs became the bain of our existence as they were everywhere. We all developed what Mike and Jeff referred to as "Gu-dar". The packets would stick to the pavement though and it was pretty disgusting picking them up, even with gloves on. We found plenty of interesting garbage along the highways and streets of the marathon route...toilet seat, weed whacker, slippers, porno dvd (not kidding either), mp3 players, enough clothing to outfit a third world country, dog poop bags, an airplane bottle of tequila...empty...now that's a hardcore runner!

At each aid station we stopped, unloaded our garbage and recycling into Jan's pickup truck and unloaded all the garbage/recycling from the stations as well. We were sweeping behind the last runners and once we passed a station, they could close down. Then we were off. I pushed the stroller for a few miles (between two aid stations) and it wasn't too bad, except that the front wheel veered to the left and my left arm got quite a workout as a result. The guys were seriously awesome though and traded off the stroller between the three of them the rest of the way. It's tough running with that thing! Once we reached the 20-mile mark, we were joined by 3 or 4 more sweepers and then a few more at the final aid station. So by the end, we had a sizable group crossing the finish line. It was so much fun! Jan followed close by from mile 20 on so that we could keep tossing our full bags into his truck. The garbage really picked up in those last 6 or so miles, and clothing was everywhere! We were now covering what had been the initial first three miles of the out-and-back marathon course, so that's why there was so much discarded clothing.

My head cold was really acting up, and my cough got courser towards the end of the run (probably due to the wind and chilly temps). My nose was running faster than I was in the final two miles! My left hamstring started tightening up around mile 20 and what felt like fist-sized knot was forming behind my knee. When I asked my PT about it, she said I was probably running too fast for the distance we were covering and my hamstring was trying to decelerate me by tightening up. It was painful, but not enough to stop me. Mike was getting the same thing, so we just complained to each other about it and kept on trucking.

In all, when we crossed the finish line to a very warm welcome by the crowd, Mike, Ian, Jeff and I had covered 14.5 miles...the longest distance ever run for both Jeff and I. I was elated, because I had such a great time (way better than expected), met some totally awesome people, saw my sister standing there at the finish, I got a distance PR and because I could finally wash my hands and blow my nose. Oh, and I got a finisher medal. Sweet.

Holms and I after finishing...


Wow, what a great experience!! I can't even begin to describe how much fun this was, you really just have to experience it for yourself. Even Holms, who's not really into the whole running thing, and is by no means a morning person, showed up at 7:30a.m. without any complaints (at least none that I heard!) and helped sort trash all day long at the start/finish area. She was all smiles when she saw the rest of us crossing that finish line. I was assuming I'd come back to find her pissed at me for volunteering her to volunteer on her vacation, and she ended up having an absolute blast! I think we may have even inspired her a little bit as she said she just might start training for a 5k now! Hell yea, and the running bug is spread...it's a contagious little bugger. She really loved the free Atayne shirt she got for volunteering. I think her words were, "Oooo, a free running shirt?! That totally makes it worth it!" Hahaha

Holms, separating trash and recycling

Now it was time to sort everything remaining at the start/finish area and break down the Atayne tent. Rebecca did a killer job and really held down the fort at the tent. So kudos to her. And kudos to Jeremy who killed it out there on the marathon course and BQ'd!!!! I think his finishing time was 3:09 for the marathon. Good gracious, so all that training really did pay off. Congratulations, Jeremy!

We separated recyclables and garbage, and loaded everything into Jan's truck. We broke down all the boxes and loaded those up too. Jeremy and Jan were going to take everything to be redeemed and all the money earned from that would be donated to the Maine Marathon charity, Center for Grieving Children. All clothing gathered along the course was going to be donated to the Salvation Army. Once everything was broken down and there was nothing left to clean up, we headed home for hot showers, clean clothes and then dinner at Gritty McDuff's in Freeport with Jeremy, Rebecca and the rest of the Litch' clan to celebrate a job well done and a Boston qualifying time by Jeremy. What an amazing day!!
That was only half of it...

Team Atayne!!!

There is tons more to write about, like our trip to Cape Elizabeth to see the "most famous lighthouse in the world" and our looooong road trip up north to Acadia National Park, and a few fun things in between. Here's a quick glance...
I'm on the edge of the world!!! Acadia National Park, Maine. That's a cliff that drops straight down about 30 feet into the Atlantic Ocean.

Holms and I on Cape Elizabeth, with the Portland Headlight in the background (that's the "most famous lighthouse in the world" according to some website, and Jeremy).

No hands! And I'm not even dizzy from the heights!

So, what does one do to celebrate a killer trip, a great run, and their namesake?

Get tattoos!! Yep, they're real, we did it.

Maine was fabulous. The running was top notch. I got to see my "Maine" squeeze, Mike, for a few lovely days, even though we were both pretty sick. And now I know where my next destination is. Operation: Maine.

For more recaps of Atayne's involvement in the Maine Marathon check out these blogs: Polka Dot Shorts, The Story of a Red Shirt, Trail Monster Running, and Livestrong Maine.

Paige, out.

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